UI painting and drawing professor receives Mitchell Foundation grant
University of Iowa faculty member Susan Chrysler White was awarded a $25,000 Joan Mitchell Foundation 2008 Painters and Sculptors Grant. The grant will be used to enhance her studio and develop new work.
The nonprofit foundation supports painters and sculptors who create exceptional work, who are under-recognized for their artistic achievements, and whose career would benefit from the grant. The foundation was established honor of painter Joan Mitchell, a leading New York City abstract expressionist who died in 1992.
White is an associate professor of painting and drawing in the School of Art and Art History, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of California at Davis. Her work has been showcased at numerous art museums, and reviewed in ARTFORUM, Art in America, Art News, and Arts Magazine.
A panel of prominent curators, art educators and artists judged images of the nominees' work through an anonymous process. Application was by nomination only.
Click here to go to the UNS page.
The show, which is on display in the Old Capitol Museum's Hanson Family Humanities Gallery on the UI Pentacrest (map), had been slated to close Jan. 4. The two-week extension provides additional viewing opportunities, as the Old Capitol Museum will be closed for maintenance Dec. 22 through Jan. 5.
Heyman, a Philadelphia-based artist, has used his recent work to address human rights issues surrounding the Iraqi war. Since 2006 he has traveled to the Middle East on multiple occasions with a team of lawyers to witness interviews with former Iraqi detainees. Drawing on these first-hand experiences, he created spare, expressionistic portraits of more than 25 released prisoners of all ages, occupations and backgrounds, telling their stories by inscribing their words in the space surrounding their figures. Visit Heyman's website for more information on his work.
Heyman recently visited the UI to speak with classes and participate in several free, public events. See these previous blog entries for more information on Heyman's visit:
* "UIMA on 'Know the Score LIVE!'"
* "Gallery Talk: Daniel Heyman"
* "Eye Witness Exhibition on display"
* "Daniel Heyman's Visit"
-- Maggie Anderson, UIMA Marketing and Media Manager
Here's just a taste of the story, titled "How the Univ. of Iowa saved its art collection":
"So it has come to this, Jeff Martin thought.
"Removing an art collection from its home is a major undertaking. Packing precious works and loading them onto trucks, seeing a museum stripped of life and left with bare walls is unsettling.
"But the alternative on this Monday, June 9, was much worse. Martin, manager of exhibitions and collections at the University of Iowa Museum of Art, knew this.
"The nearby Iowa River was rising, higher and faster than anyone expected."
Read the rest of the article online.
In the mean time, here are some other arts-related flood anniversary stories:
* "STATE OF THE ARTS: Area arts organizations in various stages of recovery"
* "State of the arts -- 6 months after the flood"
* "Getting back to business harder than it sounded"
* "Eastern Iowa cities still hobbled by flood"
* "The face of flood's frustration"
* "Half of flooded Univ. of Iowa buildings back in use"
* "Iowa City, Coralville making progress, but questions remain"
--Maggie Anderson, UIMA Marketing and Media Manager
Artist Daniel Heyman and UIMA curator Kathleen Edwards participated in a broadcasted panel discussion on Iowa Public Radio’s "Know the Score LIVE!" Friday evening. The two discussed the artwork in the Eye Witness exhibit with host Joan Kjaer, as well as panel participant Joshua Casteel, a UI Playwrights Workshop and Nonfiction Writing Program student who served as a military interrogator at Abu Ghraib and has written a play and a nonfiction book about his experiences there. Heyman, Edwards, and Casteel each presented their perspectives on how art can respond to political and human rights issues.
During the second hour of the program, UI Professor Paul Kramer (author, The Blood of Governments: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines, 2006), Nancy Pearson, director of the New Tactics in Human Rights Project for the Center for Victims of Torture, and former U.S. State Department Attorney-Advisor Damon Terrill discussed governmental and systematic approaches to the issue of torture and how change can be made.
Overall, the dialogue offered valuable insight into the disturbing prevalence of the United States’ torture practices, deepening the discourse that Heyman brings about with his portraits.
Heyman said he was driven to devote his artwork to the topic after he saw Seymour Hersh’s article in The New Yorker in 2004.
“It really struck me, as an American,” Heyman said in his lecture, “the idea that this war was such a failure from the American ideal.”
After Heyman’s presentation, the audience asked questions and toured the exhibit with the artist.
Heyman will also participate in a broadcasted panel discussion on Iowa Public Radio’s “Know the Score LIVE!,” tonight at the Old Capitol from 5-7 p.m. Other panel participants include UI Playwrights Workshop and Nonfiction Writing Program student Joshua Casteel (author, Letters From Abu Ghraib, 2008), UI Professor Paul Kramer (author, The Blood of Governments: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines, 2006), Nancy Pearson, director of the New Tactics in Human Rights Project for the Center for Victims of Torture, and former U.S. State Department Attorney-Advisor Damon Terrill.
The panel is free and open to the public, so make sure to attend to hear what will undoubtedly be a thought-provoking discussion on art, human rights, and current political issues.
The exhibit presents watercolors and prints made during the artist’s time in Amman, Jordan and Istanbul, Turkey, where he created portraits of former Iraqi detainees who were victims of torture in Abu Ghraib.
After seeing the photographs from Abu Ghraib that surfaced to the American public in 2004, Heyman became determined to use his art to restore the human identities of the released prisoners. In swirling lines of text around the Iraqis’ faces, Heyman transcribed verbatim the accounts he heard while listening to the former detainees' testimonies with U.S. lawyer Susan Burke. The end result is artwork that has the power to communicate these people’s stories through their own voices and return the dignity that was taken from them through physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
Read more about the exhibit in the press articles that were published after the exhibit’s opening in November:
The Gazette, “Daniel Heyman’s ‘Eyewitness’ exhibit at UI publicizes torture victims’ stories”
The Des Moines Register, “Abu Ghraib portraits draw on interviews”
The Daily Iowan, “Heyman’s artwork face to face with the heart of darkness”
The Iowa City Press Citizen, “Not all art is just pretty to look at”
Corridor Buzz, Review: “Setting Enhances Searing Portrayal of Torture Victims”
Little Village, "Freedom Through the Press"
Daniel has incredible stories to tell -- don't forget to stop by his artist's talk TODAY at 4 p.m. in the Old Capitol Museum's Senate Chamber to hear for yourself!
More thoughts on Daniel's visit coming soon...
We've got some great merchandise for sale -- t-shirts, jewelry, art posters, books, etc. Great for Christmas presents. Things are going really fast, so if you can, try to make it out today. We'll be open again tomorrow from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. to sell what's left.
Instructors (UI and other) may make appointments for their classes to view selections from the group in a classroom adjacent to Special Collections. Individuals, including students, may make appointments to see specific works in the Special Collections Reading Room. Please contact Nathan Popp, UIMA Curatorial Graduate Assistant, at email@example.com, for more information or to set up a Special Collections visit. Visit the UIMA website at www.uiowa.edu/uima for a link to a list of available works.
Last week on Thursday, Edwards assisted Professor Julie Hochstrasser's "History of Prints" class with viewing more than 50 of these works. Here is a slideshow of the students taking a close look at some of these works.
The remainder of the museum’s permanent collection remains in storage in
In addition, new purchases and gifts to the UIMA collections can be stored in these facilities, ensuring the continued growth and vitality of the museum’s collections during this transitional time.
This news broke late last week after the Regents reviewed a report prepared by the UI in response to the Regents request for information about the painting. This report, sent to the regents on Tuesday, September 30, was prepared using information provided by UIMA Interim Director Pamela White, documentation in the Museum's records, other information in the public domain concerning Jackson Pollock and the painting Mural, as well as help from other university departments. A copy of the report is available here.
The Regents released the report publicly on Friday, October 3, along with a statement from Board President David Miles, which is available here. Miles, in his statement, says, "This concludes the Board's inquiry into this matter." Art blogger Lee Rosenbaum talked with the Board's communications director and confirmed that the regents will not even discuss the matter of potentially selling the Pollock at their October meeting because they consider the issue closed. Read her full post, which includes an Q&A with UIMA Interim Director Pamela White here.
Other coverage of the Regents' report:
- The Gazette, "Consultant: Famous painting at UI too valuable to lose."
- The Press Citizen editorial, "Our View: Painting worth far more than its price tag."
- The Daily Iowan, "Selling Mural discussion continues."
- The Associated Press, "U of I says ‘Mural’ sale would hurt museum." Article appeared in The Des Moines Register, the Sioux City Journal, The Chicago Tribune, WHO TV, and KLEM 1410 radio (Le Mars).
- Modern Art Notes blog: "UIMA: Sotheby's offered $150M Guarantee for Pollock"; "Weekend roundup"; "Sotheby's: UIMA approached us (updated)."
- Time Magazine blog, "Auction House Follies."
- LA Times blog, "Sotheby's called out over Pollock offer."
The evening will include a strolling feast of hors d'oeuvres, live entertainment by local band the Diplomats of Solid Sound, featuring The Diplomettes, and brief remarks by UI President Sally Mason, honorary chair of the event with her husband, Ken Mason.
Throughout the evening, UIMA staff members will be available to explain available sponsorship opportunities to "Party!" attendees. The UIMA sponsorship program, now in its second year, gives museum contributors the opportunity to direct their support to specific events or exhibits.
Last year's switch to this sponsorship program was a resounding success. According to museum and UI Foundation officials, the Oct. 20, 2007, "Museum Party!" and associated fundraising appeals generated a record $173,000 in gift commitments.
"These sponsorship opportunities give our donors a greater sense of ownership of museum events and activities," Pat Hanick, the UI Foundation's director of development for the UIMA, said. "This approach also allows contributors to direct their support where it's most meaningful to them, as well as to the museum."
More than 600 art patrons contribute to the UIMA throughout the year. The UIMA relies on non-university financial support, including annual gifts and its endowment fund at the UI Foundation, for nearly 40 percent of its annual budget. These gifts provide meaningful cultural programs and stimulating exhibitions, and they secure the museum's vitality for future generations.
Tickets for "The Museum Party!" are $100 (fair market value of the evening is $25). Call 319-335-3676 by Tuesday, Oct. 7, to make reservations.
"The Museum Party!" is made possible with support from generous sponsors and hosts. "Party!" Sponsors for 2008 are: James P. Hayes and Rob and Paulina Muzzin. Hosts are: Gerry Ambrose and Kristin Hardy; Lowell Doud; Gerry and Leesa Elseman, Vision Industrial Sales, Inc.; David and Jayne Hansen, Endodontic Associates of Iowa City, P.C.; McComas-Lacina Construction Company; McDonald's Restaurants; Alex, Lauren, Lily and Kevin O'Brien; Phelan, Tucker, Mullen, Walker, Tucker and Gelman, L.L.P.; Pleasant Valley Flower Shoppe; Rohrback Associates, PC, Architects; Kim Schulz, M.D., Infinity Skin Care and Spa; Shive-Hattery, Architecture-Engineering; Kristin Summerwill; Alan and Liz Swanson; Pamela J. White; and Candace Wong.
The UI Museum of Art was evacuated from its building in June due to the flood. Many exhibitions and events slated to be held at the UIMA have been moved to alternate venues. For more information on the UI Museum of Art and the latest schedule information, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/uima.
The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. For more information about the UI Foundation, visit its Web site at http://www.uiowafoundation.org.
For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/acr-news.html, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500MEDIA CONTACTS: Maggie Anderson, Museum of Art, 319-335-1731, firstname.lastname@example.org; Patricia L. Hanick, University of Iowa Foundation, 319-335-3305, email@example.com; Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072; cell: 319-541-2846; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo illustration by Drew Schiller: The Plaid Sweater, Grant Wood, 1944. Oil on Masonite.
This larger space will reunite the staff with the Museum collection files, which contain detailed information about the history of each artwork in the UIMA collection. This information is needed for research and to explore the possibility of traveling exhibitions from the UIMA collection. In addition, the space will have room for storage of materials salvaged from the Museum building, including tools, furniture, and goods from the Museum Store and Coffee Bar.
The move to the Studio Arts Building is very temporary, and does not allow access to any work from the UIMA collection. Plans are currently underway to create two more long-term temporary spaces that would provide student access to key works from the UIMA collection. First, Special Collections at the UI Libraries has provided room for two boxes of prints, a key component of many classes, including a "History of Prints" class being taught this fall. This space could be available as soon as next week. In addition, creating a secure space at the Iowa Memorial Union for parts of the African and Ceramics collections, as well as the UIMA staff, is being explored. It is unknown how long that process will take, as the IMU is itself recovering from flood damage. Until this project is complete, the UIMA staff will remain at the Studio Arts Building temporarily -- possibly a year or more.
The long-term future of the Museum is still to-be-determined, but UI President Sally Mason has expressed a firm commitment to the arts at Iowa and the Museum of Art. She has said that art will not go back into the old UIMA building because it is too risky -- instead, we can expect and look forward a new, state-of-the art Museum facility. This is a very long-term project that will require much planning, so stay tuned, and we'll keep you updated with new information as the things progress!
Also, more coverage of the regents' request for a study on the potential sale of the Jackson Pollock:
A Local Row blog
The Art Law blog
The Des Moines Register
The Press-Citizen and here
To summarize: The past couple weeks, the University of Iowa has been leading the media through some of the flood damaged buildings, giving everyone a chance to see how the cleanup is progressing and ask questions. Last Wednesday, UIMA Interim Director Pamela White joined UI School of Art and Art History Professor Steve McGuire to lead the media through the Museum of Art (UIMA) and Art Building West (ABW), respectively. Jane Meyer, senior associate director of athletics, who has been on loan to UI Facilities Management to oversee the UI's building-by-building post-flood cleanup efforts, and Ann Rosenthal, a senior engineer with UI Facilities Management, joined them.
Ann stressed that the major difference between the arts campus buildings and the other buildings the media has toured, such as Becker Communications Building, the English-Philosophy Building, and Adler Journalism Building, is that the damage to the arts campus was much worse. There was more water inside the buildings -- 4-6 feet in the case of ABW -- and it took longer for the buildings to be accessible. So, the future of the arts campus is still quite unknown. "We don't have all the deadlines. We don't know how this is going to come through with insurance and FEMA," said Jane Meyer (pictured below in ABW).
Steve McGuire talked a bit about how art and art history students will be affected. Most of the studio art classes will be held in the old Menards building out on Highway 1, and art history classes will be in various locations throughout campus (mostly in Seashore Hall). Buses have been arranged to take students out to the old Menards, and class schedules have been altered to make time for transport.
Above: The inside of ABW, completely stripped down. Below: Two pictures of the outside, where you can see just how high the water was. Ann Rosenthal said that there some debate about whether the water marks should be left on the building. Some people think it should be restored to its original state, while others believe that the flood is now a part of the history of the building, and as such its marks should remain. What do you think?
Pam White (pictured below) talked about how the Museum will be striving to have a presence on campus this fall by holding events and exhibitions in alternate locations and potentially touring parts of the collection to other Iowa museums. Plenty going on nowadays!
We've also gotten quite a bit of attention nationally. There was an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, and two quite prominent arts bloggers are on the case: Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes, and Lee Rosenbaum of the Culture Grrl blog. (You might remember Tyler Green from his interview right after the flood with Pam. Lee Rosenbaum has written extensively about other museum's struggles to hold on to their collections.)
This news comes right on the heels of a great article on the rescuing of the Pollock by Michael Judge in the Wall Street Journal a little over a week ago.
If you are interested, the American Association of Museums has guidelines for museum ethics, standards and best practices, and a list of accredited museums on its website. (The UIMA would lose its accreditation if the Pollock was sold to pay for flood damages.)
We're curious to hear what you think about this issue. Post a comment (instructions here) and let us know, eh?
"There's nothing here but a few two-by-fours attached to a massive expanse of drywall. Then I see it, a small white plaque with black lettering that reads 'Jackson Pollock / American, 1912-1956 / Mural 1943 / Oil on Canvas . . .' "
Click here to read the full story.
The flood was extremely hard for us all. Having such a birds-eye view of the river was, for me, especially troubling. Every otherwise normal thing felt so much more ominous, so foreboding. A lifelong lover of storms and showers, for a long time after the flooding, I was literally mortified at the mere touch of a raindrop. I've never felt more helpless as when I realized that, instead of surf and river rapids, I was beginning to see furniture and debris wend its way downstream with regularity. These effects were once a part of people's homes and intimate lives. The river made me into a voyeur. Transfixed, as much as it bothered me, I could not force myself to turn away. Part of my vigil was to make sure that the flotsam remained, outside of trees and carcasses of fish, ever inanimate...If I can name it as such, perhaps that proximity to the river is where my writing passion derived from...
I live off of Riverside Drive and from my porch I have a clear view of the Dairy Queen, the Jail, and the Iowa River that divides them. In June, the river sought to join them.
I'm still amazed at people's reactions to the crisis. Hundreds of Iowa residents can access their normal routes, limited as they already might have been: to the mall, to their gas station, their jobs. Their homes are 'on a hill', high and far away from the University. They are not intimate with the rivers or creeks, save the occasional treat trip to a downtown festival or an anniversary dinner at Verde's. To these, far east or far west-siders, the flood begins and ends each night with a pop of pixels on a screen.
In my own circle of friends, many sentiments echo the same tone, "We knew You'd be O.K." Initially, the thought was nearly universal that I'd be okay.
As a result, people fell on either side of the spectrum. A precious and appreciated few people lent significant moral support, offered me plane tickets, places to stay, resources, sandbag help, and other tangibles.
Before leaving home, I watched the waters continue to rise and flow, carrying with it chairs, oils, branches, and other flotsam. I witnessed the depth of the falls minimize by the day: once a frothy prolonged drop turned to a distance it takes to pour a cup of coffee. The violence of the river astounds me still. Having spent many Sunday afternoons near the underside of the bridge, reaching in with my lure to pluck wipers and pumpkin seeds from the current, I felt I knew the river. Musky salt-licked air and the 'choffing' sound of surf against mossed rock always soothed me and steeled me against the impending work week.
Now churning, swirling, eddying--the flow turned unreliable. Unpredictable and unfamiliar to me as an inferno would be, oxygen-fed and kindling-lit.
On June 13th, a Friday, The Iowa River first burst forth on the east side of its banks and roved closer to the university community. From my porch vantage, I saw the brackish waters pool, then push toward parked Cambuses, gas pumps, the city jail. Sandbag after sandbag, slumped one on top the other, seemed a feeble border to keep the surge out. Yet, hopeful, stolid, and soon to be sun-reddened, the Iowans persisted. Citizens lopped bags, end over end, through many sizes of waiting hands. Volunteers, quite tenderly cradling each with the prayer that it would do its part and then tossing the bag on, in timed rhythm, toward the growing wythe. Thrown bags, the size of 9 month-olds, huddled in anticipation, with sweat as the mortar.
From my porch I could see this. Then, the waters broke on the west side of the river, onto my side. The creeping current revealed three secrets of the topography of Riverside Drive. The roadway crowns in front of the Kum and Go, Myrtle Street, and the alley driveway that enters South Riverside Court. Save this giant thumbprint of dry space, the whole of Riverside Drive seemed covered in standing water.
For what I needed to see next, the grassy slope abutting Myrtle was an even better crow's nest than my porch. I flip-flopped across the paved alley, down the sloping sidewalk and tar, and upward through the moist grass.
The brow of the hill overlooked the university and its sandbaggers. From a distance, their retaining wall seemed made of rough ashlar instead of webbed bags of silt.
For a while, I sat, watching the arching machinations of the Iowans at the waters' arc. I observed the movements of the river. Iowa had breached across the car-lot, the four lanes of Riverside Drive, and lapped against the grass at the base of my perch. Rippling through the water, were several fish--lunker carp, to be exact. As they looked for worms and beetles in the sediment, they flopped, sucking air very audibly before each eventual submerge.
In time, a family of two came closer. I saw the father first, still dripping from having waded through the waters which flowed from further down Riverside. As he strode over the shrinking area of dry concrete in front of Kum and Go, the Asian man began tucking in his white polo. His daughter, hair in pony-plaits, walked as he walked from one side of the river's embrace to the other. Calf-deep, the father created swirls for his daughter to wade through. She removed, from the crook of her elbow, a parcel which she then gently unfolded into a sheet. This she handed to her father who was already beside the fish, standing poised and very still.
I got up.
Walked back to my house.
Finished packing my cases with summer clothes, wedges, food, and watermelons.
Lunged them all into the car.
Drove down South Riverside Court.
U'eed in front of Kum and Go, and geared it up Myrtle Avenue.
Splashing through the water on the other side of the river, I was one of the last to drive over the Burlington Street bridge.
When news of the flood became national, people across the country were curious about the damage, FEMA, and my safety. Once satiated, folks mostly breezed me another email or two, then almost immediately fell back in line relying again on me to help them out through whatever chronic life-crisis they had been dealing with before.
Meanwhile, I'm living in a good friend's basement, can't return home for several days yet, and when I do--the stench will be deplorable as my neighbor's basement apartment had been flooded with rainwater before the river's breach.
In short, I'm fine.
-- Shanti Roundtree
If you haven't yet read the story of the UIMA evacuation, you can find it here.
And while you're at it -- why not let us know what you think? How do you think the University should handle the arts campus? Should we go back to the river? If not, where should the new building be? Downtown? Another location on the arts campus?
From The Gazette, article by Diane Heldt:
"The University of Iowa Museum of Art likely will never return to its flood-damaged home on the Iowa River's west bank, UI President Sally Mason said.
Mason said UI officials must consider whether Lloyd's of London, which insures the collection, would continue to do so if the collection is returned to a building in a floodplain.
'Will that building be used as an art museum? I don't think so at this point,' Mason said. 'I'm trying to prepare people to think in terms of an art museum not in a floodplain.' "
Daily Iowan article by Jennifer Putnam and Lauren Skiba:
"Now that the waters have receded, UI Vice Provost Tom Rocklin said, if the museum has to move, it might come down to money.
'A big concern is where the funding is going to come from,' he said.
At this point, the university has made no plans on funding. Because of that and other concerns, Rocklin said, officials have not made a formal decision yet on whether the museum will be relocated.
'First, we need to get a full understanding of risks at the current location,' he said.
If the move is found to be the best outcome, interim Art Museum Director Pamela White said fundraising will be required. She believes, though, that keeping the art safe trumps cost-effectiveness."
Daily Iowan Editorial
"With the UI Museum of Art having faced so much destruction in the flood, the best move it can make is to move.
Relocating the museum would ensure that it comes back even better than the wonderful place it has been. The new museum would be refined and revamped. It would stand as our triumph in the face of the flood. Hopefully, lengthy discussions and evaluations can be avoided - because the community, the Arts School, and the UI need the museum back. Obviously, until all the risks of the museum's current location are fully evaluated, there can be no official decision. But the only real risk that matters is this: The current location is susceptible to future flooding. Imagine the new UI Art Museum erected in the heart of downtown Iowa City.
This image is no mirage. As reported by the DI, the museum's then director was in communication with a local developer to explore the potential of this move last year. However, nothing came of that discussion. This year, now that the city has withstood the floodwaters, these talks should begin again. The museum's new home ought to be in downtown Iowa City.
Iowa City prides itself as a community that thrives on the arts: the music festivals and street performers downtown; the Literary Walk on Iowa Avenue; the sculptures on the Pedestrian Mall; even the artisans who can make an easy buck selling their handmade bead jewelry. The arts make us, quite literally, who we are. They are our greatest source of culture and identity. The downtown community will flourish with the arrival of the Art Museum.
The museum is all the city is missing. We have the historic Prairie Lights Books to hear renowned authors. We have many concert venues for acclaimed musicians. We have great restaurants, crazy bars, and unique shops. We have bricked sidewalks for banjo players and interpretive dancers. But imagine if we had the resources of a university art museum in that same area, too.
Instead of being tucked away in its quaint location along the Iowa River, the new UI Art Museum would stand tall as a trademark of the downtown vibe. A sort of harmony could be forged between the culture of the city and the art of its inhabitants, between the community and the campus.
The flood has receded, but the museum's relocation would mark a comeback and a final victory over the disaster. It would stand as a monument and commemoration, reminding us that although the flood gave us a multimillion dollar beating, we have risen above it. We could look to the museum as a sign of the community's strength. We will have prevailed using a building made up distinctly of what we are.
We all need "art for art's sake," but we need the museum for the community's sake."
In the weeks following the flood, conservators entered the Museum and removed the remaining objects to the secure art storage facility in Chicago with the rest of the collection. The conservators' early evaluations of these works are overwhelmingly positive: They believe that fewer than 10 objects were actually touched by the flood waters, and that none of the art works sustained lasting damage. We'll keep you posted as we learn more about the next steps for the UIMA collection in the coming weeks.
It has been a really great experience, during this hard time, to hear such supportive comments from the community at large. It has also been a real honor to work with the K-12, University and public audiences in the past—and I can’t wait to have the chance again in the near future.
One thing that I have found is that even though the future is ambiguous and the challenges seem overwhelming at times, the UIMA Staff remains as committed to the tasks at hand as ever. At a time when we have had every reason to feel anxious and depressed, or indulge in our own “idiosyncratic meltdowns” (which I believe each of us has done, at one time or another), the staff as a whole remains really optimistic and energized. I guess it comes with the conviction of having work that you believe in and the faith that even though we won’t be what we once were—there’s no reason we can’t come back even better!
For example: Education Assistant J.J. Kohl and I have been working on 14 different proposals for educational programming. Five of these proposals will happen during the 2008-2009 academic year, and the other five are for when the UIMA has a location and our collections are returned. Since the UIMA isn’t housed and the collection is inaccessible, the nature of engagement for the audience and docents will change; there’s still a lot to do, though I am hoping our visitors and volunteers will stick around for the ride.
Speaking of which, my contact information remains the same—even though we have new digs. We are at 251 Macbride Hall. It is a nice office behind the elevator shaft, and I am really thankful to be settling in-and that the
So, with your continued support and encouragement, I will get back to work.
Director of Education
But first, some general news: The UIMA staff is still sharing offices with the Museum of Natural History staff in Macbride Hall. Buffie Tucker, Pat Hanick, and I have invaded Sarah Horgan's office in room 14 and somehow managed to quite comfortably fit three more desks in the space! In room 11, the Natural History Museum's main office, Cindy Opitz (MNH Collections Manager) now shares with Betty Breazeale, our secretary, Jeff Martin (Registrar/Exhibitions), Steve Erikson (Preparator) and several students. Three other staffers got an office to share on the second floor: Dale Fisher (Education Director), J.J. Kohl (Education Assistant), and Dave Riep (African art curator). Pam White (Interim Director) and Kathy Edward (Chief Curator) are sharing the space in room 10. And our security guards are currently helping out at Old Capitol Museum and monitoring progress at the UIMA building. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to visit us in our new digs -- we really appreciate you thinking of us! And a big thanks to the MNH staff for making room. We can't say enough about how good you've been to put up with us.
Now, for the future. The good news is that we will still be able to host two of the temporary exhibitions we had planned. We've lost our big show, Jess: To and From the Printed Page because we don't have a large enough space to house it, but the other two shows are smaller and we've found venues for them. One, an exhibition of prints by Daniel Heyman about the Abu Grhaib prisoners, will be in the Old Capitol Humanities Gallery; and the other, and exhibition of early hip-hop photographs by Harry Allen (writer associated with Public Enemy) will happen in a yet-to-be-determined location. Both of these shows will be really great and have some fun programming associated with them, so keep your eyes peeled for more info.
We've also managed to squeeze almost all of our programing (Writer-in-Residence Readings, Know the Score, etc.) onto Old Cap's calendar. In addition, all of our docents will be meeting at Old Cap -- the collection may not be physically in Iowa City, but there's still plenty of work to be done, and we need the help of our docents, volunteers, and patrons more than ever.
We're still planning to put out our magazine in late August that will detail this schedule, so look for it in the mail. Other than that, I'm going to try to post something on the blog at least once a week from here on out, just to keep you all in the loop about what's going on here!
The view from the outside of the building. It was really noisy around here where a lot of the work was going on.
This is where the Pollock was hanging. You can still see some of the wooden supports on the wall.
Some of the workers converse in the painting galleries. See the sign for the MFA show? And see how the wall is cut out underneath? They have cut it that high even though there was only 3-4 inches because apparently the water (and mold) travels up the sheet rock.
These white plastic tubes where carrying cold air all around the building -- climate control.
The old entrance, with some chairs wrapped in plastic.
Storage. Those metal shelves were stacked floor to ceiling with artworks. Each had a specific location on the shelves, which were specially designed to hold the works. It's so sad to see them now!
These racks usually hold paintings in storage.
View of the sculpture court. You can see the water line on the wall across the way. Since that room is recessed, the water was up much higher than on the main floor.
Pillar in the Atrium.
Looking onto the entrance of the North Gallery. The atrium is through that door on the right.Lasansky -- this room is probably the worst on the main floor. The lower galleries (where the Ancient American art was on view) were worse but it was too dark to get a good picture. Those galleries, as well as the basement, were basically full of water.
Atrium. The offices were blocked off by that plastic barrier that you see in the right-background.
Big Boy wrapped in plastic!
All right -- that's all for now. I'll be posting some more photos very soon, as well as updates about our plans for the future. Stay tuned!
Few bright spots are easily visible amid the heartbreaking images of flooding and destruction from Iowa City, the state of Iowa, and the entire Midwest. Thankfully, because of an immense effort by a dedicated team of staff members, outside experts, student employees, and museum volunteers, I am able to report that the UI Museum of Art is one of those fortunate bright spots.
Working nearly non-stop during the week of June 9, we were able to evacuate artworks totaling approximately 99 percent of the value of our collection. That figure represents nearly 80 percent of the 13,000 works of art in our collection -- all evacuated in less than four days.
This is an incredible success story, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the proactive planning of the university and the massive outpouring of support from UIMA and Pentacrest Museums staff, student employees, and volunteers.
The UIMA staff received official word of evacuation Monday, June 9. Working with university representatives, we immediately implemented the UIMA flood plan. Twenty-four-hour security was arranged to monitor the rising floodwaters and ensure the security of the building and the art work. By the end of the day, the university had nearly completed a massive concrete and sandbag dike between the museum and the rising river.
Meanwhile, inside the museum, a team of the finest art professionals, art handlers, and conservators arrived to help UIMA staff, student employees, and museum volunteers. Personnel from the Pentacrest Museums contributed their expertise, manpower, and space. Together, these groups began working around the clock to pack the UIMA collection for removal under the direction of UIMA staff members Jeff Martin, Kathleen Edwards, Steve Erickson, Christopher Roy, and David Riep.
The first of three semi-trailer trucks loaded with art work departed for a secure art-storage unit in Chicago on Wednesday, June 11. The ensuing two days marked the river’s most rapid ascent, according to the National Weather Service. Between 7 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Friday, the Iowa River rose nearly 2.5 feet to reach 30 feet -- not far from its June 15 crest at 31.53 feet. Because of this quicker-than-expected rise, the university closed many of the arts campus buildings much earlier than originally scheduled. At 7:45 a.m. Friday, the museum was secured, and the final truck departed for Chicago.
While some art had to be left inside the museum, in the wee hours of the morning on Friday workers had moved everything they could to the highest possible levels inside the building. This past weekend, floodwaters had receded enough to allow entry to the museum. Upon inspection it appears that only a few inches of water intruded onto the main floor -- not three to four feet as previously estimated. Thanks to the incredible efforts of everyone involved in the museum's evacuation, nearly everything that remained in the building escaped floodwaters.
Moving the collection was a monumental task, and it is impossible to stress enough just how important the joint efforts and cooperation of staff, student employees, and volunteers have been throughout this process. I’ve witnessed guards working 12-hour shifts for days on end to secure the art work, staff members spending the night at the museum to squeeze every last minute from the day, volunteers willing to come in at 10 p.m. to help however they can, and countless other selfless acts. We are all so incredibly fortunate to have such a dedicated and professional team protecting the art works we love.
It is too early to estimate when the Museum of Art building might be fully operational. In the interim, we are sharing space with wonderfully accommodating members of the Pentacrest Museum staff and have relocated our main office to Room 11 Macbride Hall. We are reachable at our regular phone numbers and email addresses.
Numerous people have offered assistance to the museum. I deeply appreciate these expressions of concern and support. For those who wish to donate to the museum for flood relief, our annual fund through the University of Iowa Foundation will be used specifically for renovations and any other expenses associated with recovery. We would also like to encourage people to consider giving to the general university flood relief fund.
All around us, families, students, professors, business owners, and cultural organizations are struggling to move forward as the floodwaters recede. It's a slow-moving and often painful process, but here at the UIMA we have much to be grateful for. We have saved – not lost – the priceless art collection that serves as a resource for so many. We look forward to your continued support in the coming days, and we know that together we will overcome the challenges that lie ahead.
---Pamela White, UIMA Interim Director and Director of the Pentacrest Museums
Thanks to everyone for you kind inquiries and goodwill throughout this difficult time. We'll keep you updated with new information as it arises, and keep an eye out for a complete statement from UIMA Interim Director and Director of the Pentacrest Museums Pamela White in the coming days! We look forward to your continued support, and we know that together we will overcome the challenges that lie ahead.
I appreciate the concern that members of the public have shown for the Museum of Art and the wonderful artworks in our collection. I can assure everyone that the artworks are safe. The University has made remarkable efforts to protect all of the buildings along the west bank of the Iowa River, and we are confident that the UIMA building is protected. We particularly want to thank all of the volunteers who came out to help fill and place sandbags along the river. After the waters have receded, we look forward to moving back into the building and once again being able to share our collection with the public.
The University of Iowa has suspended normal activities on the arts campus due to anticipated flooding. University officials are making plans to temporarily relocate offices in all buildings along the west bank of the Iowa River including Hancher Auditorium, Voxman Music Building and Clapp Recital Hall, the Theatre Building, the Museum of Art, the Art Building and Art Building West.
This means The University of Iowa Museum of Art will be closed to the public until further notice, and all your favorite UIMA staffers will be spending some time at another work space on the UI campus. Stay tuned for more info as things progress. Up-to-date flood news is available at the University of Iowa Flood Information web page.
This is a portrait of Dr. Ignacio Ponseti by the artist Ramon Herreros, a Spanish artist born in 1947. You can see more of Herroros' work and read more about him here. Here's a general shot of the mezzanine gallery where about half the works are on display. The other half are down the stairs -- it's sort of a split-story show :)There are six selections from Goya's "The Disasters of War" print series in the show. This series of 80 prints, created between 1810 and 1820, is considered one of the most important artistic examinations of the horrors of war from social, economic and moral perspectives.This is a detail of one of the Goya prints. Pretty intense. More works by Herreros.This etching, Au Revoir M by Miquel (or Michael) Barceló, depicts a scene of goodbye -- the title means "Goodbye M" in French -- as a boat pulls away from the shore. But the large shoe in the foreground signifies gives some hope of return: "In folk history and folk philosophy, leaving your shoes means you'll be back," says Helena Ponseti. The painting in the foreground is especially treasured by the Ponsetis -- it depicts an area of Spain they have fond feelings for. It's called Calla San Visente, and it was painted in 1932 by the American artist Hans Paap.
First, we decided to make good use of the fancy video screen leftover we put up for Winona Ryder in the Carver Gallery during VOOM by showing off some of the fun videos we have in our permanent collection. In what we're unofficially calling our Summer Video Series, we're featuring some early video classics from American artist William Wegman (we had an exhibition of his Weimaraner portraits dressed in couture a few years back) and Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss, as well as some later works by UI emeritus faculty member Hans Breder and Roman Singer, another Swiss artist. Here's the lineup for the series:
-- May 21-June 22: selected 1970s shorts by William Wegman (See still at right.)
-- June 25-July 27: Peter Fischli and David Weiss's The Way Things Go
-- July 30-Sept. 7: UI emeritus faculty Hans Breder's Fontana Song for Scrim
-- Sept. 10-Oct. 5: 19 short films by Swiss artist Roman Singer
You really don't want to miss these videos. Most haven't been shown for quite a while, in large part because we rarely have the space in the galleries or our exhibition schedule. And most of them are hilarious. Wegman's videos use props, his own body, and his dogs as comic material -- in one short, Wegman spits out milk in a trail and his Weimaraner, Man Ray, laps it up, while another Wegman makes his belly "sing"; Fischli and Weiss use explosions, found materials, and other substances to create a domino-effect installation that keeps you wondering what will happen next; Breder's video is a bit more serious, but stunningly beautiful; and we wrap things up with Singer's "event sculptures," which present funny twists on traditional science.
For more information on the exhibition, check our website or read the full press release. And keep checking back here for more detailed previews/reviews of each video as the series progresses.
We're also opening an exhibition of African Ceramics this week on Saturday, May 31. The show will be going up in the Ceramics II gallery, a revamped space connected to the current Ceramics Gallery on the southeast corner of the building. (The space had been closed for about two years; previously, it housed other African works from the collection.) The show is culled largely from a promised gift of nearly 100 African works from an anonymous collector. If you like African art, you know the museum has an outstanding collection, much of which came to us from Maxwell and Elizabeth Stanley of Muscatine, IA. This gift helps to expand the current collection, adding a broad sampling of African Ceramics from across the continent, creating wonderful research opportunities. The crew has been doing a lot of work getting the space prepped for the opening -- installing shelves, tiling, etc. -- and the show is going to look beautiful.
Check our website for more information and the press release on African Ceramics; we'll post a review here on the blog after the show opens.
Read the full press release online.
We had a big crowd -- nearly all the chairs were filled!
The first segment featured (from left to right) host Joan Kjaer interviewing Arthur Canter, UI professor emeritus, Christopher Merrill, director of the UI International Writing Program, and Jason Weinberger, director of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony. The three guests shared personal stories and literary selections related to World War II and the Holocaust for this program, which was presented in recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day.Tom Brokaw, the former NBC Nightly News anchor and UI Alumni Service Award winner, arrives!
Browkaw discussed his latest book, Boom, and reflected on people he met and stories he heard when researching his bestseller The Greatest Generation. Browkaw also shared some personal stories about his own family, and briefly discussed his time attending the UI as an undergraduate in 1958-59, during which he "smoked a lot of pot." :)
One of the audience members was a woman whose family Brokaw once stayed with in Iowa.The program concluded with a performance of selections from the Quartet of the End of Time by Weinberger and a group of principal-chair players from the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony. This work was written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in a German prison camp during World War II.